Ohai, I’m back! *hugs laptop and grins* So, as you know, last Sunday I jetted off to London for an impromptu blogger meetup and to attend the London Book Fair. Many of you asked me to show you some pictures of my trip and tell you how it went and what the seminars were about, so… here goes.
After a 30-minute delay at the airport, the most frightening landing I’ve ever experienced, a mad rush at Luton and a chaotic train journey to central London I arrive at St Pancras just after 3 p.m. I send a quick text to Celine (who I was sharing a hotel room with) to say I’m here, yet it takes me at least 10 minutes to find her at the station. Er… yes. By this time poor Celine had been waiting for me for at least two hours. Just for the record, Celine and I have never actually met before. And the first time we finally do, I make her wait ages. Embarrassing much?
Celine and I finally reunited, we make our way to our hotel. Or so we think. Three minutes after our first meeting each other, we draw the first conclusion of our trip: our sense of direction is beyond rubbish. The hotel is a relatively short, 8-10 minute walk away from the station. I checked Google Street View before I left and Celine has a map, yet we manage to get lost twice. But, despite the gusty wind, the weather is lovely and the sun is out so it’s all good. Even if we haven’t the faintest idea where we are.
After successfully finding our hotel in 30 minutes, we have a cuppa tea, manage to open the window together (we’re both short, skinny and weak, you see) and head off to Waterstones Piccadilly for a quick book shopping before closing time and to meet up with Faye and Ellie. At this point, we draw the second conclusion of our trip: all book bloggers seem to be short. I’m only 5’4″ but I seem to be the tallest among the four of us. Which doesn’t normally happen. Hurray! We quickly swap books (and chocolate) and decide to go to an Italian restaurant at Leicester Square for dinner. After dinner we meet up with Katie (who happens to be short as well!) and head off to Costa for coffee. By this time Celine and I (but especially me) must look embarrassingly zombie-like after all this getting up early and travelling malarkey, so belated apologies guys!
Day 2 & 3
The London Book Fair!
After an agonizingly long tube journey and running late as usual we finally arrive at Earls Court, get our LBF badge sorted and make our way to the exhibition. Exciting stuff!
First impressions: I remember Celine’s recap from last year and remember her saying she felt a bit overwhelmed but I don’t think I was fully prepared for this. Ladies and gents, Earls Court is MASSIVE. It’s an enormous venue. So much so that our catalogues came with a map (seeing that we can’t read maps it’s bad news already) and, after our first conclusion and us being awful at directions it may not surprise you that it took us absolutely ages to find our way. In addition to this, the place is full of important-looking people in suits doing important-looking business, shaking hands and signing book deals. Which makes you feel (or at least it made me feel) a) privileged that you’re here and b) well, small and insignificant.
Despite what bookish people tend to think, LBF is not like Book Expo America. At all. It’s not about buying cheap books, author signings and lots of free books. Nope. As a blogger – unless you know a bunch of bigwigs in publishing and don’t feel intimidated by all these important-looking people and actually go and talk to them – you’re bound to feel small. After all, these people are there for business. They’re already part of this industry and well, you’re not. Not really. Needless to say I did not go and talk to them so it definitely wasn’t the exhibition part of things why I think it was worth going. It was the atmosphere and the seminars. Some of them were a bit of a let down but most of them were very informative, as well as thought-provoking.
Seminars: During our two days of attending the Book Fair, we went to six seminars. Each seminar had at least two or three speakers who were discussing a given book related topic, quite often followed by an audience Q&A. I’ll try and do a few discussion posts about some of these topics in the following weeks but just to whet your appetite, the seminars we went to were:
- Reading Outside the Box: a discussion on literary vs genre fiction, genre snobbery, and whether children’s publishing still needs the concept of genre
- How to Get Into Publishing: a discussion and Q&A session – aimed at those looking to kick-start a career in publishing – on how to improve and get your CV noticed and what skills you really need
- How to Get Ahead in Publishing
- New Adults, Steamies, Crossed Genres – Reinventing Teen Fiction: a discussion on the New Adult genre, on how it differs from YA and whether it has a future or if it’s just a marketing strategy to sell more books
- Blogging: the New Community: a panel of two book bloggers and two publicists talked about how to get started as a blogger, what makes a good blogger and how to get advanced reader copies
- Does Teen Fiction Require a Rating System?
The verdict: Was it worth attending? Yes. Would I like to go next year? It depends. If the seminars sound good and are something I find useful, something that make me think and make me learn something new then yes, definitely. As I said, I’m not brave enough to go and talk to all these people so if I do go again, it will be because of the whole atmosphere, good company and informative seminar topics.
All in all, (despite the fact that travelling was rather exhausting and I had to get up at 3 freaking a.m to catch my flight on our last day, leave a half-awake Celine at the empty hotel room and drag my enormous suitcase across London in complete darkness) it was a great experience and I’m glad I decided to go. Not only did I enjoy listening to these discussions and feel that I learned something new as a blogger but I definitely got some well-needed career advice, as well as some encouragement to go for it and fight for my dreams, no matter how unreachable they seem.